Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Giacometti on finding worth

Man Pointing, created by a sculptor Alberto Giacometti, is a free-standing bronze sculpted in 1947, the tail-end of the surrealist movement. The sculpture shows a man gesturing with his left arm and pointing with his right. He is frail with scraped away musculature. Giacometti sought to embody the way one would perceive a figure at a distance; thin, lightweight, and devoid of detail. On the other hand, the man also has an active sense of vitality with his weighty feet, which are solid and grounded. This sculpture, as well as others made by Giacometti during the years leading up to World War two, show flesh which seems to have been “ eaten off by a terrible surrounding emptiness, or which register the air around it as hostile pressure.” (www.moma.org). It has also been described as “charred or corroded.” These interpretations feed off society’s general outlook on life during this time. Many were hopeless, could see no light at the end of the tunnel, were starving or living in fear of nationalist leaders or communism. The drooping eyes of Pointing Man Convey sadness and the grounded ness of the figure may also convey helplessness.
Giacometti was originally considered the premier sculptor of the surrealist movement. His tall, thin figures were mostly influenced by the most prominent philosophies during, and following World War 2. Many of his themes embody sexuality or violence. All of his figures, especially when he arrived at his mature style, are characterized by a sense of grounded ness, which appears to contradict their tenuously thin limbs.
The most prominent and influential philosophy of the time and of Giacometti’s work is that of existentialism. Specifically, existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, who wrote on Giacometti, describing his work as conveying “despair, futility, and loneliness of the human condition.” For example, the heavy feet of Pointing Man implies confinement to its bronze base and represents permanent separation from others. The absence of the sculpture’s individual features shows inner emptiness. Yet, its strong sense of constancy and stability may counter-balance this negativity with the existentialist idea that one can find worth in an ultimately meaningless life, through taking individual responsibility.

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